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Microsoft’s New iPhone App Narrates the World for Blind People

The app uses AI to recognize people, objects, and scenes
by James Vincent@jjvincent
Jul 12, 2017

Microsoft has released Seeing AI a smartphone app that uses computer vision to describe the world for the visually impaired. With the app downloaded, the users can point their phone’s camera at a person and it’ll say who they are and how they’re feeling. They can also point it at a product and it’ll tell them what it is. All of this is done using artificial intelligence that runs locally on their phone.

Big Win for Blind Shopper in First U.S. ADA Web Accessibility Trial

Law Office of Lainey Feingold, June 13, 2017

On June 12, a judge in the federal District Court in South Florida made history. That history came in the form of a court order in a lawsuit filed by blind Florida resident Juan Carlos Gil against regional grocer Winn-Dixie.

The lawsuit argued that the Winn-Dixie website wasn’t accessible. Mr Gil could not read the store’s online coupons using his screen reader or use other features on the site.

After a two-day trial the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff (Mr. Gil). That order is historic because it is believed that this is the very first trial in an ADA case about website accessibility against a private company, known legally as a public accommodation. Read the Seyfarth Shaw blog post that identified the historic nature of this trial.

Is your Company’s Website Accessible to the Disabled? You’d Better Hope So

By Mark Pulliam
June 11, 2017, 4:00 AM

The Americans With Disabilities Act produced tangible benefits. Signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, the ADA banned employment discrimination against the disabled and eliminated unnecessary physical barriers to commercial and government buildings. But in the quarter-century since it was enacted, the law has also had countless unintended consequences mutating definitions of what constitutes a physical or mental disability, senseless mandates, astronomical compliance costs for business owners and, perhaps most damaging of all, waves of abusive litigation.

Indeed, ADA lawsuits are now as common as sex-discrimination lawsuits, with more than 26,000 new claims filed against employers each year. The latest litigants have their sights on the most innovative segment of our domestic economy: e-commerce.

Wearable System Helps Visually Impaired Users Navigate

Larry Hardesty | MIT News Office
May 31, 2017

New algorithms power a prototype system for helping visually impaired users avoid obstacles and identify objects.
Device provides information from a 3-D camera, via vibrating motors and a Braille interface. Watch Video at the link below

Computer scientists have been working for decades on automatic navigation systems to aid the visually impaired, but its been difficult to come up with anything as reliable and easy to use as the white cane, the type of metal-tipped cane that visually impaired people frequently use to identify clear walking paths.

AMI Partners with Prominent Web Organization to Further Encourage Media Accessibility and Inclusion

May 25, 2017

TORONTO, May 25, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —
Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) announced today that it has become an official member organization of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

With more than 400 members world-wide, W3C is an organization that facilitates the creation of standards that shape web technology. One of its primary goals is to make the Web widely accessible to all people regardless of hardware, software, network infrastructure, native language, culture, geographical location, physical or mental ability. AMI shares similar values with a strong focus on inclusion, empowerment and innovation.

‘Hey Siri’ – how mobile technology can support inclusion

By Contributor on April 27, 2017 in Community Care Review

For such a small piece of equipment, the iPad packs a lot of punch when it comes to providing accessibility features, writes Jacqui Kirkman.

While there is still a need for custom-built equipment, many people with special accessibility needs are finding that an iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch or similar devices by other manufacturers can perform the same functions for a much lower price and sometimes in a way that makes them stand out less.

Fighting the Social Factors of Accessibility

Digital content shared through a website is a powerful tool for nonprofit outreach, fundraising, community building, and program delivery. It can give a parent access to amazing resources they otherwise may not have found, and bring new eyes to your parent center.

But what if your message is falling on “deaf ears”?

Currently 1 in 5 Americans have a documented disability. That’s 20% of fundraising opportunities or outreach your organization could be missing.

On top of reaching those with disabilities, nonprofits need to take into account social factors like:

  • Users who speak another language
  • Users with low literacy rates
  • Users who aren’t computer savvy

The Mortgage Industry’s Next Headache: Website Accessibility Requirements

by Jack McElaney
on May 17, 2017

If past behavior is a good predictor of the future, mortgage lenders (as well as mortgage brokers, settlement services providers and real estate brokers, for that matter) should brace themselves: A new regulatory compliance shoe is about to fall, with private litigation leading the way.

The focus is website accessibility a catch-all phrase that means making websites and other digital platforms and files accessible to individuals with disabilities.

There are no Web accessibility regulations currently in place that are aimed at financial institutions generally or at the housing and housing finance industries specifically. But you don’t need a crystal ball or 20/20 vision to see them coming. A look at the history of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will tell you what you need to know.

Two-Thirds of Councils Pass Web Accessibility Test

New survey points to fall from last year, but Socitm points out the test has become more demanding

More than two-thirds of councils have passed stage two of the accessibility test created by the Better Connected service of public sector IT association Socitm, but the number has declined slightly from last year.

It said that in a recent survey covering a mix of counties, districts, metropolitan authorities and unitaries throughout the UK, 134 of 195 passed the test for their sites to be used by people with disabilities. This amounted to 69%, but the figure for last year was 77%.

AMC Theaters Agrees to Improve Services for Blind Movie-Goers

San Francisco, CA April 28, 2017

AMC Theaters (AMC) has reached an agreement with several blind individuals, the California Council of the Blind (CCB), and the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco (LightHouse) to ensure blind customers have reliable access to audio description services at AMC movie theaters nationwide.

Audio description is a verbal description of the visual events on screen, which plays between pauses in dialogue. Many movies come with audio description tracks, and customers who are blind or visually impaired can listen to audio description through special headsets that are available at the theatres. With audio description, people who are blind and visually-impaired can fully enjoy the important and beloved American pastime of going to the movies.

Voters With Mental Disabilities Deserve a Say at Polls, advocates Say

I Am Voting campaign encouraging participation of people with mental disabilities in #elxn2017 By Liam Britten, CBC News Posted: May 09, 2017

Alexander Magnussen is a man with autism who is voting in his first provincial election. He is also an advocate with I Am Voting, a campaign encouraging voters with intellectual disabilities to participate and exercise their rights.

Alexander Magnussen is over the age of 18. He’s a resident of British Columbia.

But he also has autism and, until recently, believed his diagnosis made him ineligible to vote.

“I would hear people talk about voting and I would assume that I was not allowed to vote … I would mind my own business,” he told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

Visually Impaired Voters in B.C. Given Option to Phone it In

EMILY McCARTY
VANCOUVER Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, May 08, 2017

For Reed Poynter, not being able to see has made voting difficult.

Plastic templates that help visually impaired voters cast their ballots can slip, meaning the only way he could ensure he checked off the right candidate is to ask for help and give up his privacy.

In the last federal election, staff at his polling station told him they didnt have any braille ballots; he was later told some officials just didnt know where they were.

School District Eyes Resolution Agreement for Website-Accessibility Complaint

Board to discuss civil-rights case on Tuesday
by Elena Kadvany / Palo Alto Weekly

Palo Alto school district staff are asking the board to waive their two-meeting rule for approval and enter into a voluntary resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in response to a complaint alleging the district’s website is inaccessible to individuals with disabilities.

The draft resolution agreement, which has been reviewed by district attorneys, would commit Palo Alto Unified to a series of website improvements as well as monitoring, reporting and training requirements to address the alleged civil-rights violations. The board will discuss the resolution agreement at its Tuesday meeting.

App Spots Objects for the Visually Impaired

A new iPhone app uses machine learning to identify objects for people with poor eyesight, and it doesn’t need an Internet connection. by Rachel Metz
Originally posted March 25, 2016

As I walked around my office on a recent morning, a female voice on my iPhone narrated the objects I passed. “Brick,” “wall,” “telephone,” she said matter-of-factly. The voice paused when I came upon a bike hung on a wall-mounted rack, then intoned, “bicycle.”

Canadian Federation of the Blind Letter and Background Information Mailed to Librarians and Legislators

Please circulate widely.
April 13, 2017

Dear legislators and librarians interested in services to blind Canadians:

Canada currently has two library services for blind people and others with print disabilities. The publicly owned system is called National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS). The privately owned system is the old CNIB library, now called Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA).

Having two library systems is an unreasonable duplication of effort and a tragic waste of resources. The Canadian Federation of the Blind urges governments and libraries to put an end to this nonsense and once and for all make our library service truly public. We believe NNELS is fully
capable of managing distribution of books in alternate formats and should become Canada’s resource for libraries as they integrate service to people with print disabilities.

Persuading your older parents to take the smart home leap

by Ashlee Clark Thompson
April 11, 2017 5:00 AM PDT

This is part of CNET’s “Tech Enabled” series about the role technology plays in helping the disability community.

First, Sophie Godek tried to read books with a magnifying glass. Then, she turned to a tablet to make the words on her e-books larger. Eventually, she couldn’t even see that. The 95-year-old was losing her sight, and with it, one of her favorite hobbies.

“She wasn’t able to read anymore, and that was a big loss,” said her son Jim Godek.

Blind Windsor Woman Denied Help Filling Out Passport Docs

Windsor – CBC News
April 03, 2017

Rebecca Blaevoet, holds up ‘tactile vision’ labels for seeds being borrowed from Windsor Public Library. The Windsor woman said a recent experience at the passport office shows the need for better government accessibility in Canada.

An Ontario woman says the federal government is letting down residents with disabilities by forbidding staff at Passport Canada from helping applicants fill out their forms.

Rebecca Blaevoet of Windsor, Ont., says she learned of the policy last month when she went to have her passport renewed.

Blaevoet, who is completely blind, asked Passport Canada staff to fill out her form according to the responses she provided, but they refused, saying that would violate official guidelines.

Canada’s former chief electoral officers eager for successor, laud proposed electoral legislative changes

Jean-Pierre Kingsley says hes disappointed the government has yet to name new chief electoral officer, despite knowing since June that they would need one. By LAURA RYCKEWAERT

Hill Times March 23, 2017

Canadas former chief electoral officers Marc Mayrand and Jean-Pierre Kingsley are lauding changes proposed in new legislation, including moving the elections commissioner back under the authority of Elections Canada and removing restrictions on who can apply for the job of commissioner.

But they also say there are other issues to be addressed, and with only an acting chief electoral officer in place since Mr. Mayrand stepped down at the end of December, both say theyre eager to see a new permanent chief electoral officer of Canada named.

Concern Over Access to Library Material for Visually Impaired People Raised With Minister

Posted on 16 March 2017

LACA, the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance, has contacted the Minister responsible for intellectual property, Jo Johnson MP, with concerns that proposed changes to the implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty in Europe will hamper the ability of libraries to serve print disabled people and provide access to works.

LACA has identified that proposed changes will mean that libraries face increased costs and bureaucracy when seeking to provide accessible format copies of books and other printed materials to people who are blind or partially sighted.

CAPTCHA Be Gone from Accessible Apps Removes Another Barrier to Accessibility

Jamie Pauls

Technology continues to improve the way people who are blind interact with technology and make use of the Internet. In any major screen reader release, improvements to the way the product works on the Web are front and center in all “What’s New” documentation. Furthermore, modern software applications make use of, and behave like, webpages to such an extent that it can often be difficult to know where a desktop application ends and the Internet begins.